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UN General Assembly caps 2003 work

General Assembly caps 2003 work, condemns 'deliberate' attack on UN staff

The United Nations General Assembly today closed its fifty-seventh session by unanimously condemning the 19 August attack on the UN headquarters in Baghdad, and urgently called on all nations to help find and prosecute the perpetrators of this "vicious act."

Recognizing the selfless commitment of UN staff members who serve the ideals of the Organizations around the world, the UN's 191-member governing body strongly condemned the "atrocious and deliberate" attack on Baghdad's Canal Hotel, which killed 15 UN staff - the largest ever in one incident - seven others, and wounded more than 100.

The Assembly also paid special tribute to Sergio Vieira de Mello, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Representative for Iraq, and his colleagues who perished in this "senseless tragedy."

Along with a call to bring the perpetrators, organizers and sponsors of the attack to justice, the Assembly also called for "intensified international cooperation to prevent and eradicate such acts of terrorism and to hold accountable all those who participate in such acts."

The text, submitted by Assembly President Jan Kavan of the Czech Republic, was one of nearly 60 open items taken up today to close out the body's work for 2003, which included filling vacancies in subsidiary organs.

Other items, including draft decisions on sustainable development and international economic cooperation, as well as the revitalization of the work of the General Assembly, were among those that were referred on to the fifty-eighth session, set to open tomorrow afternoon under the Presidency of Julian Robert Hunte of Saint Lucia.

In his concluding remarks to the closing meeting, Mr. Kavan told delegates that the UN has been through a very difficult year. During the session, "the General Assembly discussed a wide range of issues from conflict prevention to more effective implementation of the Millennium Development Goals; from more coordinated and integrated follow-up to major United Nations conferences and summits to - one of the most important issues on the UN agenda - reform of the United Nations system."

"We have reached consensus and adopted many resolutions and decisions, however, some of the ideas and proposals have not been finalized,' he said, adding that he expected that consideration of these ideas will continue in the next session.

Mr. Kavan added that he hoped the UN would focus not only on Assembly matters, and its revitalization, but also on further involvement of the UN in guiding the world's affairs. "I am convinced that the role of the United Nations should be far more decisive than it has been in recent times…This obviously applies also to the Security Council and its responsibilities in areas of maintenance of international peace and security today, particularly including Iraq."

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